Why teaching makes me a better artist

I Started this painting as a demonstration during my workshop, and finished it up yesterday.  I also posted it on my daily painting website.

Another workshop has come and gone. I struggle sometimes to make time to teach these workshops, but I am always glad that I did because the best way to truly understand what you do is to teach it to someone else. Teaching these workshops also gives me the opportunity to be part of a community of artists who each have their own unique artistic style.

So much of what I do as an artist becomes intuitive. In the back of my mind I am thinking about balancing my composition, creating depth in my work by using different color values, or using broken color to create transitions from one color to the next. I know that I consider all of these things and more while I’m working, but have to articulate that to someone else allows me to get a better understanding of it myself.

Making art can be a very solitary task. Artists tend to hide away in their studios and hyper focus on their work. Sometimes this is necessary in order to actually get some work done, but art shouldn’t be created in a bubble. I love that everyone that attends my workshops has their own story, their own talents, and their own personality. I have just as much to learn from them as they have to learn from me.

Here are a few pictures from Saturday’s workshop.  It was a wonderful day and it was so great getting to know everyone. My next workshop is scheduled for April 16th

Name This Painting

I’ve Just finished this abstract floral and don’t have a title for it.  Sometimes naming my paintings can seem more difficult then painting them, so I decided to reach out to all of my friends to see what suggestions they might have.  If you have a suggestion for a name, please put it into a comment on this post.

This is a painting that I started as part of a demonstration at the Artigras Art Festival in Jupiter, FL.  The demonstration was supposed to be an hour, but I lost track of time and kept going for about an hour and half. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the demonstration though.

Help me choose a date for an April Workshop

My March Saturday workshop filled up fairly quickly, and I know that there were some folks who weren’t able to get in, so I am considering scheduling another one in April if there is enough interest. If you are interested in taking a workshop in April, please take the following survey to help me chose the best date.

Should I schedule a 'Playing with Knives' workshop in April?

Help choose a date for the workshop

Friday Night in Carrboro

I just recently hung a new exhibit at Weaver Street Realty in Carrboro, and I would like to invite you to the reception Friday March 11th during the 2nd Friday Artwalk.  I’ll be there between 6:00pm and 9:00pm.  The address is 116 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510. I hope to see you there.

Workshop Scheduled

I have had several requests for a painting workshop, and I have finally found time in my schedule to get one on the calendar. I really enjoy teaching these workshops, but it is often difficult to make the time. It is a one day Saturday work shop on March 19th from 9:30 – 3:30. I am limiting the workshop to 4 participants so that everyone can have an easel. Bring your own materials or if you are just getting started, you can purchase a starter kit from me.

These workshops are always a lot of fun. Everyone should get a lot of painting done, and probably make some new friends. For these all-day workshops, I ask participants to bring a bag lunch and we will break at around noon.  Hope to see you there!

Click here to purchase this workshop

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The Story Behind the Trees

Midnight Woods 24″x36″

A few years back I went through a period of about 2 years where I only painted trees. As a creative individual, placing limits on ones self may seem counterintuitive; shouldn’t we be open to endless possibilities? Of course we should always be open to new things, but maybe not all at once.  Because I limited my subject matter, I was able to focus more on style and technique instead of pondering different subjects. I was also challenged to find new creative ways to paint trees. And, because practice makes perfect, I became very proficient in painting them.

Those of us who are the most creative often have difficulty focusing one thing, especially in today’s fast paced society. There are so many possibilities, our minds are constantly dancing between this opportunity and the next. A few years ago, just before the tree project, every time that I would get in front of a blank canvas, I would get this sort of painting paralysis, thinking to myself “what to paint? what to paint? what to paint?” It became so frustrating that I wouldn’t want to finish one painting for the fear of starting the next.  Once I made the decision to limit my subject, that burden was lifted; I alway knew what to paint – trees of course.  Now that I always had a subject selected in advance, I could spend more time focusing on color, value, texture, etc…

Just because I had a default subject doesn’t mean that my paintings didn’t challenge me as an artist, just the opposite in fact. Because the ‘what’ of my paintings didn’t change, I was challenged to be more creative with how I painted them. I played around with different color combinations.  I tried spring green against a pink sunset sky and played with oranges and reds against a teal colored mountain range. I started working with a palette knife in order to create texture. I explored painting the trees from different angels and from different perspectives.  With each painting I found new ways to explore this subject, and I found it very liberating.

Carolina Evening 36″x48″

Another benefit of painting the same thing over and over again is that you become very skilled at it.  I found that during my journey through tree painting, that each painting played off of the last.  I could examine each painting and ask myself “what’s working here, and what’s not?” With each painting, I became more and more proficient. When I would walk in the woods, I would take photos and study the trees and the angels of their limbs. I would study the shapes in the spaces between the branches.  I noticed the shadows, and the morning sun as it glared through the tree trunks. When I was back in my studio, I would use these observations to create new and interesting work.

The painting of the trees has had a real impact on my style of painting, and has helped me to find my own voice through my work. I painted trees exclusively for about 2 years.  I have since started painting florals, landscapes, and refections, but I always go back to trees periodically because I still feel that they have more to teach me.

One Step at a time. Impressionist Acrylic Wooded Landscape

For me, spending time in the woods is like finding a tiny oasis from a hectic world.  This is why a few years ago I started a series of wooded landscapes.  I want to show you the entire process of painting one of these treescapes, so I documented each step with photos a long the way.

 

abstract under-painting

Each painting that I do starts with an abstract under-painting.  The under-painting is completely dry before I start on the painting.  You can see here that in the under-painting, I am simply playing with color combinations.  Notice the combination of cool and warm tones. The goal here is create color combinations that are balanced and that play off of each other in a playful way. Some areas of the under-painting will remain visible in the final painting.

The next step in the process is to start play with both the negative and the positive space in the painting.  The positive space is the actual physical objects in the painting (trees and leaves).  The negative space is the space between those objects (light coming through from the background).  Here I am also choosing colors that play off of the colors in the under-painting. Notice how much texture I can create using a palette knife as my paint brush.

Now you can see that I have started to add much more structure to the painting by blocking in tree trunks and limbs.  I also still continue to play with the foliage colors as well as adding some depth and definition to the sky.  I also have brought more color and depth to the foreground.

The final piece is a very textural impressionistic wooded landscape with an abundance of warm inviting colors and a glow of early morning sun coming through the trees.

Why I Paint Every Day

A couple of years ago I started the practice of painting a small painting ever day. For the first year I was very diligent, making sure to take supplies with me when I traveled and even painting in hotel rooms or at rest stops.  In the second year I started to cut myself a little slack, missing a day or two here or there, and then this last December and part of January I took a pretty long break.  But with the new year (well, a couple of weeks late I guess) I have started fresh, with a new spirit and a new diligence!  Since January 18th I have once again been painting every day and posting my work out to my http://artworkdaily.com website.  I discovered during my winter break, that I really missed that daily ritual. It is a habit that I really need in my life.  By sitting down (or standing) with palette knife in hand and completing a quick, small, spontaneous work of art, I feel a small sense of accomplishment every day.  I have set a small goal, and I have completed it. It gives me confidence; confidence that I can set and accomplish other goals; confidence in my ability as an artist.  This small thing has had a huge impact on my life.  I would like to challenge all of you to find one small thing that you can commit to doing daily.  It doesn’t have to be art related, it can be as simple as a couple of yoga poses, or jotting a couple of sentences down in a journal.  Anything that can be done in a fairly small amount of time and that you would enjoy doing. I think after a few days you will understand that sense of accomplishment that I am talking about.

Check Out My Daily Paintings!

You can see all of my daily paintings on my artwork daily website.  And if you would like to get a daily painting in your inbox, I would love to have you subscribe for my daily painting newsletter!

Go to artworkdaily.com

Up for Auction

I have started putting my daily paintings up for auction.  This impressionist landscape is on auction now.  Check it out!

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Painting winter

I don’t like winter. As a season I t is about as cold, grey, and lifeless as you can get. Despite all that, I do know that there are those quiet, peaceful, snow covered moments in winter that are truly beautiful. So, today in my daily painting I have tried to capture that beauty. You Can see all of my daily paintings http://artworkdaily.com or even better, you can subscribe to my daily painting newsletter to get a daily painting in you inbox every morning.

5 Color Schemes That Will Make You Smile

Grey, wet weather leaves me feeling a lot like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh – you know the old depressed Eeyore, not the newer happier version. My energy is drained, I feel tired and moody, and even the simplest tasks tend to seem daunting. You might ask yourself, ‘why does this lack of bright colors get us down?’  The better question might be, ‘what can I do about it?’ You can’t change the weather, but you can add bright, beautiful colors to your indoor environment.

As an artist, I don’t often think about colors in the terms of ‘schemes’, at least not while I’m painting.  The colors that I use become more instinctual than planned, but as I look back through some of my paintings, certain combinations seem to jump out.  Here are some of the color schemes that I’ve come up with.  You can use these combinations in your decorating to combat the cold weather blah’s.

1) Summer Heat!

This One is all about the warm colors.  I love to put crimson and gold together, and even the green has a warm hue.

See a Painting with These Colors

2) Spring Breeze

You can’t help thinking about spring with these two shades of green against the rose.

See a painting with these colors

3) Primary Colors

The primary colors are the purist of colors and are always a cheerful combination.

See a painting with these colors

4) Teal and Red

I’m not sure why, but the deep crimson and the teal just seem to make a great combination.

See a painting with these colors

5) Ocean Mist

Combining the warm and cool tones of blue together create a definite Caribbean feel.